MSU - No. 1 Women's Cross Country Captures Great Lakes Regional Championship

MSU - No. 1 Women's Cross Country Captures Great Lakes Regional Championship

Provided by MSU

MADISON, Wis. - The Michigan State men’s and women’s cross country teams returned to competition on Friday afternoon at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championships, hosted by the Zimmer Championship Course in Madison, Wisconsin.

Less than two weeks after winning the Big Ten Championship, the Spartan women’s squad delivered another dominating performance with 28 total points in the women’s 6K race to capture the sixth regional title in program history and the first since 2010. The MSU men followed with 82 points and a second-place finish in the men’s 10K race, matching the best team finish in program history (second-place, 2009). Both teams earned automatic bids to next week’s NCAA Championship meet in Terre Haute, Indiana.

“I can’t say enough about both groups and the job they did today,” said Director of Cross Country and Track & Field Walt Drenth. “You train all year for these types of races, arguably the best cross country competitions in the country, and the effort and focus by our kids was unbelievable. I think there’s still more room to grow and we’re very excited about that possibility as we approach nationals.”

The Spartans were once again paced by the duo of Leah O’Connor and Rachele Schulist, who finished first and second for the third time this season. Both runners clocked in with times of 19:45. Julia Otwell (20:05) was the next MSU runner to cross the finish line in fifth place overall, followed by Lindsay Clark (6th - 20:06) and Alexis Wiersma (14th - 20:23) rounding out the Spartans’ top-five. Sara Kroll (15th - 20:24) and Sara Stassen (24th - 20:42) made up the rest of the rotation for MSU. All seven runners were named to the Great Lakes All-Region Team.

“This group is just so good and continues to do the right things as they have all year,” said Drenth. “To have seven of 25 All-Region award winners is just remarkable and speaks to the depth we have on the women’s team. They don’t worry about things they can’t control and they just embrace every opportunity so well.”

Junior Caleb Rhynard finished fourth overall with a time of 30:17 to lead the Spartan men. Senior Ben Miller crossed the finish line in 30:31 and finished 11th, followed by Alex Wilson (16th - 30:38), Sherod Hardt (25th - 30:43) and Nick Soter (26th - 30:43). Ben Carruthers (30:54) and Andrew Cusmano (30:59) finished 31st and 36th, respectively. Rhynard was named to the All-Region Team for the third straight year, while Wilson made the team for the second time in his career and Miller & Hardt were first-time selections.

“This was our best race of the year and I couldn’t be happier for our men’s team,” stated Drenth. “We knew we were better and very capable at 10,000 meters and I thought they kept their poise extremely well on the course today. Caleb [Rhynard) has just been incredible all year and I think Ben [Miller] was finally fully healthy today and that really showed. Sherod [Hardt] lost a shoe very early in the race and still ran very well in 29 degree weather, which just speaks to his poise and the effort of this team.”

The NCAA Cross Country Championships will be run on Saturday, Nov. 22, at the Lavern Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Indiana.